CLAYSVILLE – The McGuffey Highlanders had the inside track to clinch the automatic playoff berth from the WPIAL 2A Century Conference going into Friday night’s matchup with Chartiers-Houston.
Sitting at 4-0 in conference play and 4-1 overall, a win would put them in position for at least a share of the conference title, leading Wash High and Frazier – each of which were each 3-1 in conference play going into action this week – by one game with two to play.
McGuffey managed to clinch the playoff berth with a convincing 56-0 win over the Bucs.
A win next week against Beth-Center will give the Highlanders (5-0, 5-1) their first outright conference championship since the 1994 season.
“I told them eight years ago we were everybody’s homecoming. We’ve come a long way,” said McGuffey head coach Ed Dalton. “We’ve made a lot of improvement. Obviously, our goals are beyond this, but this is a great first step.”
The Highlanders managed to dominate the game from the start – forcing a fumble on Chartiers-Houston’s opening drive and recovering the ball on the 13-yard line. Kyle Brookman immediately took the ball in for a 13-yard score and gave McGuffey a quick 7-0 lead.
McGuffey continued to work quickly on both sides of the ball, forcing the Bucs to go three-and-out on three-straight possessions, and McGuffey scored on each ensuing drive.
At the end of the first quarter, McGuffey had 10 total offensive plays and four touchdowns, giving them a 28-0 lead.
By the end of the first half, Brookman had scored three times, McGuffey had scored seven touchdowns – one for each offensive possession it had – and they held a 49-0 lead over the Bucs. Chartiers-Houston got the ball into McGuffey territory twice in the half but wasn’t able to capitalize on those chances, turning the ball over on downs once and running out of time at the end of the half at the Highlanders’ 28-yard line.
“Anytime you lose no matter what the score is, it’s hard to take. We just need to continue to focus and get better every week. That’s been what we’ve talked about all year,” said Chartiers-Houston head coach Terry Fetsko. “They definitely were much more physical than us, and that showed in every aspect of the game.”
Chartiers-Houston had multiple opportunities inside McGuffey territory in the second half as well, but the Highlander defense was able to hold off the Bucs’ offense just enough to secure the team’s second shutout of the season.
“We don’t make it as an excuse, but we are very young. We need to improve; we need to get in the weight room next year to be more physical,” said Fetsko. “We’re happy that we’re playing this year – we didn’t know if we were going to. With a young team it is good to get that experience and that’ll help us in the future.”
So far this season, McGuffey is allowing just 7.83 points per game and is averaging 36.5 points per game. In addition to Brookman’s three rushing scores in this game, McGuffey had touchdowns from McKinley Whipkey, Rocco Falosk, Jared Johnson, Eric Donnelly and Dylan Droboj.
“Our goals were to get wins, qualify for the playoffs –we’ve done that – win the section, we’ve done that, but we would like to clearly win it outright so we have to prepare for Beth-Center on the grass,” said Dalton.